They both had beards. They both saw military action. They both passionately hated the United States.
And they both died in a hail of bullets.
And immediately after their deaths, both seemed to disappear from the face of the earth.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Osama bin Laden.
Two men who inspired widespread admiration among their supporters–and fear among their enemies.
Guevara, an Argentinian doctor-turned-Cuban revolutionary, sought to destroy the United States’ power to fight Communism. Bin Laden sought to destroy its power to intervene in the Middle East.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara
Guevara’s most optimistic hope was that Americans would eventually see the error of their capitalistic ways and convert to Communism. His last words were: “Tell Fidel [Castro] that he will soon see a triumphant revolution in America.”
But he was prepared to fight to the death–as indeed he did–to force revolutionary change upon the United States.
For Bin Laden, the cause was Islam, not Communism. His most optimistic hope was that Christian and Jewish Americans would eventually convert to Islam.
But if that didn’t happen, he, too, was prepared to attack Americans anywhere and in any way he could–as his private diary and documents have revealed.
Guevara died on October 9, 1967, at the hands of a CIA-directed operation run by the Bolivian army.
Bin Laden, creator of the Al-Qaeda (“The Base” terrorist network, met his end on May 1, 2011, during a raid by U.S. Navy SEALS on his compound in Pakistan.
Osama bin Laden
One man–Guevara–has since attained secular sainthood in the eyes of millions of Communists and their sympathizers.
The other–bin Laden–has attained instant “martyr” status in the eyes of untold numbers of Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers.
Both men plotted constantly against the United States and eagerly sought its destruction.
In November, 1962, during an interview with the Communist newspaper, the London Daily Worker, Guevara raged against the Soviet Union’s recent withdrawal of nuclear missiles from Cuba.
Those “thirteen days” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that October had brought the world to the brink of nuclear destruction.
“If the missiles had remained, we would have used them against the very heart of the United States, including New York,” said Guevara.
“We must never establish peaceful coexistence. We must walk the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims.”
Similarly, until the end of his life, bin Laden demanded more attacks like the one on September 11, 2001, that snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.
This brought him into conflict with other Al-Qaeda members who wanted to launch assaults on more vulnerable targets outside the United States.
Guevara died as he had lived–violently.
In late October, 1966, he slipped out of Cuba. On November 3, he secretly arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, intent on re-staging the Cuban revolution among the Bolivian peasantry.
But the peasants showed no interest in his aims and in fact reported his movements to the Bolivian army.
The army, in turn, was being advised by United States Green Berets under the direction of the CIA.
On October 7, 1967, an informant tipped off the Bolivian Special Forces to the location of Guevara’s guerrilla camp in the Yuro ravine.
On October 8, they encircled the area with 1,800 soldiers. In the shootout that followed, Guevara was wounded and taken prisoner while leading a detachment.
His rifle broken by a lucky shot, a twice-wounded Guevara shouted: “Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead.”
Quickly informed of Guevara’s capture, the Bolivian government debated his fate: Should he be immediately executed or placed on trial?
On the morning of October 9, Bolivian President Rene Barrientos ordered that Guevara be executed. Barrientos feared that placing him on trial would create an international media circus and/or render Bolivia vulnerable to efforts to free him.
The Bolivian government planned to declare that Guevara had been killed in action during a clash with the nation’s armed forces. Special instructions were thus issued.
These came from Felix Rodrieguez, a CIA agent acting as advisor to the Bolivians.
The executioner would be Mario Teran, a Bolivian army sergeant who had lost three of his friends in an earlier firefight with Guevara’s band of guerrillas.
Rodriguez ordered Teran to aim carefully to make it appear that Guevara had been killed in action.
To his surprise, Rodriguez found himself highly impressed with Guevara’s courage. When informed of his imminent execution, Guevara blanched, then quickly got control of himself.
Felix Rodriguez, left, Che, center
“It is better like this,” he said. “I should never have been captured alive.”
Rodriguez asked if he had any messages for his family. Guevara replied: “Tell Fidel [Castro, the president/dictator of Cuba] that he will soon see a triumphant revolution in America.
“And tell my wife to remarry and try to be happy.”
When Sergeant Teran entered the hut, Guevara told his executioner: “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward! You are only going to kill a man!”
Teran hesitated, then opened fire with his semiautomatic rifle, hitting Guevara in his arms and legs.
Guevara writhed on the ground, apparently biting one of his wrists to avoid crying out. Teran then fired several more times, finally killing him with a shot in the chest.